Boo Su Lyn works for the Malay Mail Online as an Assistant News Editor. She’s known for her fiery stance on current affairs, freedom of religion, rights of children and freedom of assembly – among others. Su Lyn is also an ardent feminist. Recognised for her “extraordinary reporting on human rights issues”, she is a proud recipient of the 2016 Suhakam media award. Last week, Supernewsroom caught up with the gutsy maverick over light conversation and coffee.
Prior to working for the Malay Mail Online (MMO), Boo Su Lyn was a HR executive for Jobstreet. Upon realizing human resources wasn’t for her; Su Lyn opted out to become a reporter for the Malaysian Insider before finally landing a gig with MMO.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Su Lyn says she’s always been interested in writing.
As an Assistant News Editor with MMO, she tells us that her job encompasses reporting on politics, current affairs and covering events. Besides that, a major part of her work also involves editing her colleagues’ work before they are ready to be published online.
Su Lyn is well known for her columnist writeups on MMO’s website. She often engages with her readers on hot topics of discussion ranging from the realm of politics to socioeconomic issues to public policy arguments.
“I think it’s really important to inform people about what’s happening around us.” – Boo Su Lyn
Upon being questioned on the challenges she has faced as a journalist, she had this to say: “People don’t readily want to talk to you. As a journalist, you must be persistent if the persons you are chasing news stories from aren’t responsive towards you.”
“Sometimes I have to be incessant and annoying. If you want information, you’ve got to keep pushing for it,” she says with a wry smile.
Su Lyn laments the lack of information and resources available to journalists like her in coming up with revealing news coverage.
“It’s hard to get the information you need especially when you require crucial data such as statistics to buttress your news article. It gets frustrating when you are reporting on critical issues such as statutory rape and offences against minors and you lack the figures to back up your story.”
Reporting controversial issues entails its own perils. Boo Su Lyn recounts with chilling detail how her laptop was once confiscated and she was detained under police investigation for an allegedly seditious article she wrote sometime in October 2015. Fortunately, upon cooperating with the authorities, her charges were dropped and article, retracted. Su Lyn overcame the incident completely undeterred. Whilst the episode has taught her to be more cautious, she is relentless in pushing the boundaries.
Su Lyn is a huge proponent of feminism. We picked her brains on what it means to be a feminist in light of today.
“To me, feminism means gender equality. Equal opportunities for both men and women,” she says.
In reference to her recent Wonder Woman article about the importance of respecting feminine qualities, she responds, “There’s absolutely nothing wrong endorsing feminine characteristics. We shouldn’t just celebrate the masculinity in women but also recognise the pacifistic traits women engender.”
“Women can be and should be anything they want to be. If they want to be solely nurturers and homemakers, as long they are given a choice, then that’s completely fine.” – Boo Su Lyn
We also broached the topic of PR and what it takes to capture media attention when pitching stories and ideas. “I am drawn to stories that are interesting – in particular, human interest stories,” she says. “I recently did a feature for the National Cancer Society on how to survive colon and rectal cancer. It is narratives like these that draw my attention.”
She also goes on to say that she favors people from PR who make her job easy. “When I need certain information and I contact a PR professional for it, I expect a response. Perhaps not an immediate one but I highly appreciate those who make an effort to get back to me,” quips Su Lyn.
On her eminent win at the 2016 Suhakam media awards for her outstanding reporting on human rights issues, Su Lyn comments: “It’s nice to be recognised for your efforts. I was actually given the award based on an article I wrote for my column.”
Boo Su Lyn draws inspiration from her mother, whom she says is (just like her) incredibly opinionated. Her upbringing has taught her to question everything and never be afraid to poke and prod for answers.
During her leisure time, Su Lyn enjoys watching TV shows such as Game of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale (a series exploring the themes of female subjugation). She also happens to love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube before going to bed at night.
Amusingly, she chips in, “Although I don’t really see the point of wearing makeup. I find that I look just the same with or without it.”
And we love you for that, Su Lyn! From all of us here at Supernewsroom, we wish you a great year ahead and may you continue to illuminate us through the might of your pen. Cheers!